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Thread: Spring Kodiak Bear Success Second Hunt of a Lifetime?

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    Member GDinAK's Avatar
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    Default Spring Kodiak Bear Success Second Hunt of a Lifetime?

    WARNING LONG STORY CUT TO THE PICTURES IF YOU PERFER>>>
    It was 5 o’clock February 17, 2012 and I was setting at my computer eagerly awaiting the draw results like all my friends and half of Alaska. When I was finally able to pull up the results I could not believe it I had drawn two of my dream hunts, TMA sheep and Kodiak Brown Bear. My home phone and my cell phone starting going off like crazy. I immediately felt a lot of pressure to pull off both these hunts out of respect for the draw and very slim chance that I would ever pull again. I only slept a few hours a night for weeks on end as I combed the internet, read every book I could find, watched every video, talked to every biologist and guide I knew or could track down. Trying to learn out all I could about both hunts, judging sheep/bear, appropriate gear, life cycles etc. I focused on the TMA sheep hunt first as it was coming up first and although I am an avid hunter I had never been on a sheep hunt. With the help of the members of this forum, numerous others and my good friend/hunting partner on August 10 we pulled out a beautiful 41 x 14 ¾ TMA ram on what for me, was the hunt of a lifetime (story and pictures to come on separate post). One down, one to go, now it was time to move on to my bear hunt….

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    I really struggled on how to best hunt my bear as I typically like to be on ground when I hunt but, many of the guides on the island kept telling me that I should hunt from a boat as I could see many more bear on the southend of Kodiak by hunting this way. For months I agonized and could not make up my mind but, eventually a very generous boat owner offered up his boat and everything lined up nicely, so off we went on April 26th headed 14 hours out to our hunting grounds. Finally we anchored up at around 1 am in a protected bay and hit the bed in anticipation of starting my bear hunt in less than 5 hours.


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    We woke to the beautiful blue skies and light winds, my hunting partner and I loaded the skiff up and headed out and across the bay. The plan was to run the bays and beaches to look for bear and the big boat would head out stay out of the shallows and we would rendezvous somewhere down the coast. The hunting was great in less than 15 minutes we saw a beautiful dark brown boar sunning him sell on a knoll just off the beach watching eight deer feeding at the tideline. He was not a shooter but close and he had a beautiful dark hide. Eventually he had enough of us and took off at a high rate of speed over the top of peninsula and he took all the deer with him. We cruise around the cape and cut back and there he was still running and he was a head of the deer, we were not trying to harass him and he was not going to let us. We cruised on down and around another 15 minutes or so until we saw our second bear walking along but, another nice looking dark bear but, he was not accessible at all. A little farther down the beach we saw our third bear eating on the beach. We worked the skiff in a little closer until we realized he was a smaller bear and not what we were looking for. As we were getting ready to head down farther, I noticed a round reddish brown lump wedged into the rocks up tight against the cut bank. After debating for a few minutes we saw it move as it was head down digging in the kelp and he looked big. The wind was right but was picking up so we headed in for a closer look.


    We beached the skiff a half mile down the shore and now we were really bear hunting. We set up the spotter and looked over the first bear and sure enough he was smaller and was rubbed a little. However the second bear still looked good so off we went. Once we got about a quarter mile out the first bear caught sight of us and headed off at a good pace but the bigger bear was still head down digging in the kelp. We eased our way around the shoreline using those big Kodiak rocks as cover. I worked my way tight against the cliff and the bear started working his way to me. Now, I started getting a little nervous because if he kept coming he was going to have to pass within 15 yards of me and my back was against a rock cliff; not to mention my hunting partner was 30 yards away filming. He kept coming and coming and eventually he was about 40-50 yards and after looking him over decided he was good, with a beautiful hide but not quite what we were after. I let him scent me and he moved up the cut bank and on his way to an alder patch up on top. We went and measured the track and the smaller bear had a 7” track and the larger had an 8” track, so probably 8 and 9 feet respectively.

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    Back to the skiff we head, we push off and head out but, the wind is now blowing 25 gusting higher and the tide is building the seas, not good… We see the big boat off about a mile and half so we grab the VHF and try to hail the vessel but no go we could not communicate with them. Our little skiff was filling up with water, we were fighting massive thick kelp beds and the winds and waves were building. We had two choices head towards the boat or back to the beach. Really, we only had one choice, which was back to the beach as our 12-foot skiff with, and 8 hp motor had 25 gallons of salt water in it and there was no way we were going to catch the big boat with communication. We turned around and headed back to the beach. Once there my partner grabbed the VHF and was off on an assault to higher ground and I was going to start building a fire. Once he got to the top of the hill he was immediately able to communicate with the big boat. We decided that the big boat would head as close to us as he could (he drafted 12 feet) and jog until the tide, winds, and waves died down. It did not take long and we were pushing off in the surf back to the safety of the big boat and we eventually made it, all this before 10 a.m.


    The skipper pointed us to an anchorage that would be better protected but we had to run several hours off shore to get there so no bears for a few hours. We pulled up to our next anchorage and we were about a mile offshore and the wind was gusting 45 or so and the tide was ripping. We were dragging our 600 pound anchor but the vessel handled the weather beautifully. We started seeing bears around 6 o’clock and by 7 o’clock we had 3 bear on the beach however, no way to get to them. We glassed them until nightfall. The weather forecast was improving so we decided to hit again in the morning.

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    Morning came and the weather had laid down some and so we headed out on our morning hunt although we could not see any bears. We cruised down the shore eagerly awaiting every little new beach or bite that we encountered as we were in bear country and we knew our luck could change at any minute. It did not take too long probably 30 minutes until Mother Nature started rearing her ugly head again. So it was back to boat with everything soaked and wet a second time. An executive decision was reached from now on we were staying on the big boat until we had both good weather and good bears.


    Around 3 o’clock my hunting partner spotted a nice bear headed to the beach, the bear had the tale-tale swagger that big boars have and looked to be of good size. Weather was better but we were going to wait to see if a few more bears came out like the night before, to better odds. Discussions around the relative size of the bears head, his head-to-length of the body ratio, where the claws white or not, his shoulder height, the placement of his ears, and the gait of his walk, ensued for the next three hours. We gathered our almost dry gear from the engine room, got ready and waited to make a decision. The bear feed and feed and then around 6 o’clock he laid down on a grass knob on the beach to sun himself. See center of picture...

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    A decision had to be made whether to go or not. The bear looked like he would be hanging around till dark but we knew that if we did not go soon and we decided to shoot that we would be not getting back until dark. We decided to make an attempt. The skipper pulled the anchor and repositioned us as close as he could and at the same time the weather was waning. We loaded the skiff and we on our way and the weather was getting better and better. It was still sunny and the winds were dying and the white caps were ceasing; by the time we covered the three-quarters of a mile to shore it was glass calm.






    Our plan was to hit the beach on an accessible area about a half mile down wind from the bear, secure the skiff and work our way to the bear to where the bear was laying and make a decision whether to take this bear or not, as this was only the second day of a 8 day hunt. Just as we were drifting the last 15 feet into the beach with the motor up, we saw the bear some two hundred and fifty yards away and working his way directly toward us. Quietly and with great anticipation we unloaded the skiff, pulled up the beach as quietly as you can an aluminum skiff on a rock beach. The hunt was on.

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    My hunting partner and I took cover and worked our way toward the boar using the huge rocks and terrain as cover. The boar was head down, sway from side to side as he lumbered toward us. I took cover behind an end table sized rock and watched this majestic animal coming ever and ever closer. He was closing the distance fast from 100 yards to 75 and then 50 he seemed to growing bigger each step. I started checking off the boxes, white claws, relative head size, swagger, I could see his muzzle was scared up, he looked big to me and his hide was perfect. Still I wanted to wait a little longer to make sure he was the one. He quickly got to 34 yards from and put both his front paws on a three-foot tall boulder and stood directly in front of me. I was up close to a huge Kodiak Brown Bear and he looked like a Mack truck. Then I saw a strand of droll 8 inches long drip from his jowls, decision made this was my bear. He turned towards the ocean and broadside to me and began to sense something was wrong you could see it in his mannerism. He began to sniff the air in effort to catch a scent of what was troubling him. I doubt that he got the scent as I made the decision to pull the trigger on my .375 H&H and sent 260 Accubond on its way to his vitals. He turned toward the entry wound as they seem to due and spun around once and collapsed before I could get a second round in him. Big bear down.

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    After much celebration with my outstanding hunting partner we decided to move the skiff closer. We repositioned and secured the skiff and took our first up close look at our bear. We cautiously approached and I reached out and touched him with the barrel of loaded rifle and there was no movement and no ground shrinkage. He was a large boar with two nice new scars on his face and a beautiful hide. He had fallen against between that big three foot tall and another two foot rock and had all fours tucked under his body. Long story short is that we could not roll him in either direction and did not have the strength to pull him backwards against the grain and bowling ball sized rocks. My hunting partner went back to the boat with the skiff to get some help from our skipper’s younger brother. I used this time to reflect on the this adventure, pay my rejects to the bear and take some more pictures of him just how he laid.

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    Thanks to the third man we were able to get his paws out from under him and drag him backwards slowly down the beach. We found a nice close spot to take some more pictures and to start skinning. As we started skinning our skippers brother noticed another big bear coming our way and only a hundred yards away. Many attempts were made by all three of us to encourage this 8-9 foot bear to go along his merry way. None of these attempts worked, we retreated to our skiff and our guns. We moved up wind, yelled, climbed on top of six foot boulders waving our arms, threw rocks in his general area. He was no further than a hundred yards away but, was not leaving so we shot in his general direction with no luck. Finally and reluctantly we went back to work and had the skipper’s brother keep and eye on him as we were loosing sunlight fast.

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    Right about dark the nuisance bear got to close for comfort as he moved within 50 yards. This time a shot was fired at a rock wall a few feet in front of him and he finally and slowly moved up the bank, across and then back down the bank and kept working his way down the beach. However, now we had wasted precious daylight messing with this bear and it was now dark and time to break out the headlamps. Well as luck would have it my brand new headlamp had taken on a little too much saltwater and would not work. Long story short, is that we worked on skinning the bear with a single headlight and knife until 12:30 a.m. The weather was still beautiful, the seas were calm and we could see the bright lights of the vessel just ¾ of a mile away. We got to the boat, where we celebrated had a feast of homemade Philly steak sandwiches and hit the bed with great memories that will last a lifetime.


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    The bear skull measured 28 7/8 and he has a beautiful hide that will squared out over 10 feet. Thanks to everyone who helped me pull this second hunt of a lifetime off, especially my hunting partner, the vessel owner and crew.






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    Well, that's it - you might as well hang up your boots, as you're never going to top those two hunts. Wow! Excellent hunts, and an excellent read to go along with it. Congratulations!

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    Nice brownie!

    Sweet hunt report, thanks for sharing and a big congrats on two fantastic hunts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Well, that's it - you might as well hang up your boots, as you're never going to top those two hunts. Wow! Excellent hunts, and an excellent read to go along with it. Congratulations!
    Thanks Brian, I know I should have went to Vegas, hopefully it will continue as I drew DCUA this year...

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GDinAK View Post
    Thanks Brian, I know I should have went to Vegas, hopefully it will continue as I drew DCUA this year...
    Geez, man...you've got to spread some of that luck around! Let me know when you're passing through Anchorage. Maybe I can rub your head for good luck or something...or even just buy you a beer and hopefully pick up luck by proximity. Crazy!

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    ongrats on both hunts. Great looking animals and nice stories. Thanks for sharing. Got to love those Kodiaks
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    Quote Originally Posted by GDinAK View Post
    ...hopefully it will continue as I drew DCUA this year
    Hey, aren't you Cora Campbell's husband? I knew I recognized your face. Had me going for a minute with that mumbo-jumbo about respect for the draw and low chance of pulling a tag again.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Nice job GD! Talk about a pot full of luck and a lot of hunting skill. I am with Brian, I think some of us need to rub your head or something to catch whatever it is you have going for you.

    Keep up the hard work and I wish you the best of luck in the DCUA this fall!

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    Great Story, Beautiful brown bear and a hell of a ram.. Congrats on both critters Sir'.. they are true trophies of a lifetime..
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    Great story, great trophy. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How are you going to have it mounted?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Geez, man...you've got to spread some of that luck around! Let me know when you're passing through Anchorage. Maybe I can rub your head for good luck or something...or even just buy you a beer and hopefully pick up luck by proximity. Crazy!
    I like beer.... tried my best to hit the Pizza Man get together as I was headed to Anchorage but it did not quite work out....

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinnyD View Post
    Hey, aren't you Cora Campbell's husband? I knew I recognized your face. Had me going for a minute with that mumbo-jumbo about respect for the draw and low chance of pulling a tag again.
    Nope not me but I think I know the guy...

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKHUNTINFOOL View Post
    Great story, great trophy. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How are you going to have it mounted?
    Still trying to figure that one out, kinda of thought I would just rug it if it were smaller. No room in the house for a 10 footer life size may try to donate it to the new Kodiak High School or find a place to display it for the long term... Any suggestions on life size mounts?

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